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Cost of Northam EVMS investigation nearly $368,000

EVMS shelled out $367,926.63 to the firm that led the probe into a racist photograph found in Gov. Ralph Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook.
Credit: 13News Now
A photo from Ralph Norhtam's yearbook page from Eastern Virginia Medical School shows someone in blackface and another person dressed as a KKK member.

NORFOLK, Va. — A search for answers about a racist photograph on Governor Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook page came at a high price.

Eastern Virginia Medical School shelled out more than $367,000 to the firm that led the probe.  

McGuireWoods spent months investigating the now-infamous photo, which shows two people -- one person dressed in a KKK costume while other is a man in blackface. The photo was published on Northam's page in the 1984 EVMS yearbook.

At one point, McGuireWoods said they were working at $575 an hour to investigate who it was in the photograph, and the circumstances which led to its inclusion in the yearbook. They interviewed the governor, several former classmates, yearbook staff, and current faculty.

But the investigation ultimately came back inconclusive. The identities of the two people in the photograph remain unknown.

RELATED: Investigation of identities in Northam EVMS blackface photo ‘inconclusive’

In a statement about the price tag, EVMS's chief communications officer told 13News Now the legal fees did not come from state funding, which accounts for about 12 percent of the school's overall budget.

"The total amount paid to McGuireWoods was $367,926.63. We placed no restrictions on the scope of the investigation and relied upon McGuireWoods’ professional experience and expertise to ensure it was as comprehensive and thorough as possible. Cost wasn’t a driving factor," said Vincent Rhodes in the statement.

Rhodes went on to say, "We receive less than 12 percent of our overall budget from the Commonwealth. The McGuireWoods legal fees have been paid from budget sources that include no state funds."

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